A cat alone

Only recently, Lily had become an only cat. At the first acquaintance, some years back, I had also met her pal Suus, also a Holy Birman and equally as beautiful as her. There was no way to compare for me, as I hadn’t really known her before, but her owner was a bit worried about her since she was alone. What she referred to, was the excessive meowing and the poor eating. 

Lily sleeps

What mostly caught my eye after arrival, was the incessant sleeping! At the crack of dawn, she was up way before me. When I needed to use the bathroom early in the morning, she appeared to have been waiting for me, looking disappointed if I decided to go back to bed for a bit! The rest of the day seemed to be passed in a deep sleep. She didn’t show a lot of interest in her breakfast, and by the dime I left the house to go to work she was already on the couch with her eyes closed. Usually I would say something like “bye sweet girl, enjoy your day”. Never would I get more of a response than an eye slightly opened! The way I left her behind, I would usually find her again upon return later that day, early in the evening: rolled up like a little ball of fur. A close look was needed to work out where the head was!  Mostly, she would only come alive after I had cooked, eaten and tidied up. She herself wouldn’t eat much in the evening either. Her meal consisted of a small can of wet food, diluted with water. Only the brothy water would be finished, leaving bits of meat behind. 
Perhaps it was my imagination, but in the course of the sit I thought I saw her eating and drinking more often than at first. The mutual rapprochement got better and that’s how she ended up staying by my side at night. The days before, it had seemed as if she had come to check up on me, to see if had already woken up. It reminded me of sleepover parties in earlier days, with endless talking and right at the moment that I was to fall asleep, the other one would break the silence by loudly asking “Are you still awake”?

Lily plays

To make Lily less active at moments I needed my beauty sleep, I brushed up an old trick: playing together! In spite of being advanced in years, she was quite keen on it. She’d run after a discarded cord tirelessly, to jump on top of it with the intention of never letting go! It resulted in her sleeping by my side, instead of staring at me in the dark and I was most grateful the nightly meowing had been minimised. 
Inspired by success I headed for the pet store to buy a toy drenched in cat nip and with real feathers attached to it. I only had to sweep the rod to make her run and jump and I like to think that this strengthened our bond further. 

The evening before departure she briefly came to sit on my lap, to purr to her heart’s content while I was gently stroking her neck. “I will miss you, will you miss me too?” I asked her without expecting an answer. 
The next morning, before closing the door behind me for the last time, I didn’t even bother to say goodbye properly. I just looked at the rolled-up ball of fur and quietly say goodbye!


In good company

Cats are well-known for being solitary creatures by nature. That is a given, but it doesn’t take into account that the way how the kitten grows up is also affecting its personality. When sitting so-called rescue cats, I was quite surprised they were often quite to very sociable. What made sense to me, is that strays often live in groups for practical reasons: it is a way of protecting themselves. It may be a long shot, but it could also account for the fact that cats that have been among humans from early on (though not too early!), can be very good company.

Tommie was the personification of a social cat. As a kitten, he ended up living with a family with two young boys, where also a half a dozen of other young children were around the house on a daily basis. ‘Young’ in this case means under four, as Tommie’s owner facilitated a day-care at her home. With near certainty; only a kitten that feels completely at ease is able to maintain himself in such a situation. Cats do like predictability, and kids in general don’t fit that description. 
This particular cat seemed to quite enjoyed human company. Upon arrival, I opened the front door with a key, finding myself face-to-face with a glum-looking cat. As I carried my luggage inside, he meowed plaintively, as if to say: “What kept you so long? I was all alone, all of that time!”
But as soon as I opened the door that was keeping us apart, all seemed to be forgotten. He was purring loudly and soon a conversation started: Tommie meowed, I chatted back to him. He was very easy to have around, wanting fuss as soon as we met and taking his place on my lap as soon as I sat down on the couch. That always happened following the same pattern; Tommie started searching for his position, which was usually facing me. He would then put his paws at the level of my bosom and started making a pumping motion. On most occasions, the nails would not be retracted. Thank goodness for padded bras! 

There were no more than two times I had to tell Tommie off a bit. It was very well possible he perceived my laptop as an enemy with whom he had to share attention, as he would not stop walking back and forth over the keyboard while I was at work. It shouldn’t surprise that a plate full of food would appeal even more to him. Possibly a sign of intelligence, as a curious cat must be smart as well. Nevertheless, in both situations I reacted in the same manner: by putting him down on the floor, gently but decidedly.  

Upon departure, Tommie was nowhere to be found. Knocking stuff around and carrying bags and suitcases was possibly not to his likings as he had hidden himself under the couch. In my imagination, I saw the same glum little face I had encountered upon arrival: “Hey, are you leaving already?”